“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No I beat my body and make it my slave so after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:25-27
God Gave You A Body. What Will You Do With It?
Today young men and staff from the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) leave Publix Headquarters in Lakeland, FL., after a kickoff luncheon hosted by Publix to begin a bicycle trek back to Vidalia, GA.; over 600 miles away. This is the 8th Annual PAYH Cycling Challenge. Please pray for their safety on the highways and follow them online as they ride. As you well know, these young men and staff do not merely jump on a bike and begin peddling such a long distance. They have been involved in disciplined and difficult training for many weeks. It is the kind of training that challenges body, mind, and spirit. Being the whole persons we are, that is, body, mind, and spirit, as believers and followers of God’s Word we are called on to feed all three appropriately according to God’s truth.
As a Christ-follower where do physical fitness and the accompanying mental tests which display the spiritual fruit of self-control fit in your life? Don’t stop reading now, for some I am sure are thinking “just another guilt trip! Recently, I sat in a mall waiting for my wife and people-watched. Hundreds passed me in less than 2 hours. I am not exaggerating when I say that 75% of those who walked by me were overweight and I was gracious in my estimating. Christians are certainly not immune from this problem in our culture. We ought to be setting the example for the culture, yet too often we are not.
The Apostle Paul tells us clearly this is a significant element in the spiritual life of the believer. His challenge and admonition speaks to the pursuit of an eternal crown and a calling in this life seeking to point a lost world in the right direction. This is a serious part of our calling as disciples of the Lord Jesus. Make no mistake, some believers because of disability or accident are unable to “beat their body into submission. Joni Eareckson Tada is a good example, and there are many who fall into a similar category. God knows this about each of our lives and the circumstances given to each personally by His hand. Nevertheless, those believers who are able are called to follow the Apostle Paul’s and our Lord’s example. Jesus was in excellent physical condition as observed in His three years of public life and in His torturous death. My wife, Glenda, tells of her late husband, Paul Anderson’s, discipline in “beating his body so as to better serve Christ. Even when restricted by his infirmities to live in bed, Paul would still do hundreds, even thousands, of “crunches, and various other exercises he devised when not being able to walk.
God, who designed and gave us our bodies, did not consign all of us to a life of inactivity. Physical conditioning sharpens the mind and heart; it enables His servants to meet the challenges of serving others and to extend the years of their ministry no matter where He calls you. The great accomplishment of completing a bike ride like the Annual PAYH Bike Challenge can be a powerful incentive in the lives of these young men. It presents many opportunities to ask God for strength and endurance, and see Him answer. Physical conditioning exercises faith just as spiritual conditioning will. The fact is that our entire person is interwoven because God made us so, a whole man or woman. The conditioning of body, mind, and spirit influences each of the other three parts for good or for ill. We cannot neglect one and expect the others to thrive. God does not desire for you to be a couch-potato. Give heed to Paul’s admonition. His words need to be taken seriously, for that is just how he phrased them; he, himself, did not want to be disqualified because he failed in this area!
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